Football – A game, a business, a family!
I have certainly seen every aspect of that in the last seven days. No matter what your involvement in football is, either as an everyday work event or as a fan, when the referee blows the whistle at 3pm you become lost and absorbed in the wonderful game that is football. It’s that feeling that we work towards all week and we look forward to.
In the early part of this week, it was the business side of the professional game that we were involved in and all the administration that goes along with buying and selling footballers. It’s not like playing Monopoly or trading in another industry, as you are dealing with human beings, and good ones at that.
Everyone now knows that Joe Rafferty has gone to Preston, and let’s thank him for the over six years of excellent service to the Club and wish him well as he moves his career to a new level. It’s a great opportunity for him to better himself, to go and play Championship football, in what can be short career. The family aspect is that Dale never stands in the way of players when they have an opportunity to progress. We expect good service during their time here, but in return we provide a platform for players to develop and progress.
On the reverse side of selling Joe was the buying side that brings in Ryan McLaughlin. A new one for many of us at the Club as we don’t often part with money to recruit players! In Ryan, we welcome another good young man into our Club, a full international player for his country, and we wish him all the best during his time with us.
Regarding business and family, Ryan has the same adviser as Ethan Hamilton and, from a business point of view, he has been great to deal with as he values what RAFC brings to the party, recognising that as a Club, from Academy right through the first team, we have a reputation in the football world for excellent coaching and player opportunities.
Talking of family, we have recently welcomed a new Deputy Head Groundsman into our family here at the Club. Richard Blackburn joins Head Groundsman Niall Hazlehurst and
Apprentice Groundsman Josh Haigh, and is settling is very well. Work was taken in December to appoint Richard, with Paul Flynn, former Deputy Groundsman, having been offered the opportunity to go and lead his own grounds team elsewhere in the EFL, a chance that doesn’t come along very often. We’re now heading towards February and I’m pleased to report that we have been getting good reviews about the pitch from the EFL throughout the season, backing up the hard work that our grounds team are putting into the playing surface.
Another example this week of football being a game, a business and a family was the EFL Regional Commercial Meeting that I attended along with Frances Fielding, Dale’s Sales and Marketing Manager.
In attendance were Clubs from Championship to League Two, all with similar issues. As someone said, ‘we are only ever rivals for 180 minutes a season’, because it was evident that the same business issues are there, including attracting fans. One Championship Club is having the best season for over 14 years yet are still reporting Season Ticket sales has gone down! A League Two Club, represented at the meeting, has strong attendances and is contemplating where to go next with pricing. It was also mentioned that there’s a downturn in sponsor revenues at many Clubs – a reflection of trading at this moment in time, especially in the retail trade. So again, no room for complacency at Dale. We have great long-term partners but we will continue work hard to develop those partnerships and others.
On a final note I must mention our Supporters Team who play this Saturday morning at Cudworth, led by Jonathan Hall. Good luck!
Have a wonderful weekend. For those travelling to Barnsley, thank you! And get behind the team as you always do at away games.
Up the Dale